Circular polarisation in star-forming regions: Possible implications for homochirality

J. H. Hough*, J. A. Bailey, A. Chrysostomou, T. M. Gledhill, P. W. Lucas, M. Tamura, S. Clark, J. Yates, F. Menard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Our discovery of high degrees of circular polarisation in some star-forming regions provides an attractive mechanism for the origin of homochirality. The largest degrees of circular polarisation, so far observed at near-infrared wavelengths, are thought to arise from the scattering of stellar radiation from aligned dust grains and are calculated to extend down to UV wavelengths. The extent of the region where circularly polarised light (CPL) of a single handedness originates is very large, and it is likely that the whole of a planetary system would see a single handedness of CPL also. We present the observational data, models of the scattering that leads to the production of CPL, and a model for the origin of homochirality. We also discuss briefly future laboratory and space-based experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


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